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Flash on the iPhone again sounding like wishful thinking

Two weeks ago it sounded like Adobe was rounding a corner on its way to delivering Flash for the iPhone, but new comments from the software maker are anything but reassuring.

An Adobe spokeswoman told Dow Jones Tuesday (today) that Flash Lite needs more help from Apple than iPhone maker has traditionally afforded its developers. She then refused to confirm whether Apple and Adobe are working together, possibly signaling that the two are not working as closely as previously thought.

Late last month, Adobe chief Shantanu Narayen said the iPhone maker was collaborating with his company on a "hard technical challenge." His comment, "The onus is on [Adobe] to deliver," seems to disagree with the spokeswoman's assertion that Adobe still needs more help.

The software maker recently released a new version of Flash Lite that supports high definition videos, but not the iPhone.

Apple declined comment for the Dow Jones report; however, its continuing reticence to help Flash Lite along should come as no surprise. The Cupertino-based iPhone maker has long encouraged developers to use open standards on the device in an effort to promote interoperability and cross platform independence for the next generation of internet applications.

The iPhone and Mac maker has been disappointed in the past with Adobe prioritizing its Windows plug-in at the expense of the Mac version, which fell behind in performance and features. Apple was likely trying to avoid the same problems spilling over to the iPhone, backing up Steve Jobs' criticisms of the "too slow" desktop version and the crippled capability of Flash Lite, which can't fully run content written for the desktop. It could also be prone to memory leaks and overworking the processor.

An Apple developer document published two Junes ago listed Flash as an "unsupported technology" and told devs, "You'll want to avoid using Flash and Java for iPhone content. You'll also want to avoid encouraging users to download the latest Flash on their iPhone, because neither Flash nor downloads are supported by Safari on iPhone."

The guidelines went on to recommend CSS, JavaScript, and Ajax instead. Apple has taken up an effort to remove Flash from its own corporate site and other products, and it teamed with Google to use the H.264 standard instead of Flash on the iPhone's YouTube app.

Taken together, these signs suggest an iPhone with Flash support is highly unlikely despite Adobe's persistence.

For more, see the AppleInsider series Flash Wars.